During the sermon on Friday at Saar Fellowship I mentioned experiencing the comfort of God (2 Corinthians 1.1-5) last year. 2022 was, honestly, the hardest year of my to-date five year pastorate. Taking stock at the end of the year, replaying the troubles of the previous twelve months over in my mind, I know that I was at fault many, many times and, honestly, could have made better decisions in many situations. Thankfully, the grace of God in the lives of His people is real and so is the forgiveness and restoration to right relationship that they offer.
The times that hurt the most and the times that were not-so easily rectified in a Scriptural and edifying manner (cf. Matthew 18.15+) contained a case of what Paul describes in 1 Timothy as double tongued:
“…must the deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre…”
(KJV, emphasis added)
The Spirit working through Paul chose the word there ‘δίλογος‘: δί, meaning double, or two, and λογος, meaning words, speeches, or subjects. Practically, it means saying one thing with one person on a given subject and another with another person (specifically with the intent to deceive one or more of those parties).
On multiple occasions in 2022 an act of double tongue-ness (is that a word?) was in play and the damage it caused to relationships was real, the hurt it caused me personally was (at times) devastating, and the impact it had on certain areas of the church family was tangible. It is unbelievably frustrating, and upsetting, to find out that a relationship you perceive as friendly, polite, supportive, and mutually respectful is simply a veil as the other party is actively saying otherwise to other people. For another look on gossip and why that’s such a big deal, try this.
Friends, it must not be like this among those who claim the same Lord and Saviour in the risen Jesus.
Writing on the conduct expected of believers and demonstrated by our Lord, Peter quotes Isaiah 53 and says:
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.””
(1 Peter 2.21-22, NIV, emphasis added)
There should be no deceitful double-tongue found coming forth from the mouths of those who profess to follow Jesus;
We should speak the truth in love to and about one another (Ephesians 4.15).
We should speak highly of one another to one another for the good of one another (Ephesians 4.29-31).
We should speak to one another for one another’s strengthening, encouragement, and consolation (1 Corinthians 14.3).
To find out that you have been spoken about to another in ways that completely contradict how you have been spoken to face to face is personally heart-breaking and potentially community-splitting.
I hope and pray that you will join me now in committing to doing our earthly best to avoid this in 2023 and beyond.